Friday, February 28, 2014

Dark Knight Rising

Everybody knows that the King James version of the Bible is the best one of all time.  By, like, a mile.  So it should come as no surprise that the currently extant King James, that being the one playing for the Miami Heat, would have the coolest protective mask of all time.  By, like, a mile.

I wish I had a better picture, but I'm loving the carbon fiber.

Did you watch the Heat pulverize the Knicks last night?  Oddly enough, it was kind of a fun game in the first half.   Carmelo Anthony poured in twenty points or so (marking his third consecutive 20-point half) and the Knicks were down by about five.  They actually narrowed it to two, early in the third.  And then the flood gates opened.

Here's another guy in a great looking mask ...

You may recognize Emmy Rossum, currently starring in Shameless, in her dewey phase.

But back to basketball, there was one moment in the third period that said it all:  The Knicks score a basket.  LeBron then takes the inbounds pass at about his own foul line, dribbles the remaining 3/4 of the court and dunks the ball without a single Knick doing anything.  Unmolested, I am telling you.  Untouched by human hands.

It should be noted here that while Carmelo Anthony either can't or won't play a lick of defense (other than rebound, at this his numbers are at an all-time high), he is an offensive wonder.  A genuine thing of beauty.  Which made me think of my boy Scully last night.

Scully -- a Syracuse fan -- always shakes his head when I talk about pro basketball.  He believes that the college game is vastly better than the pro game.  And last night, watching the Heat, I realized what was wrong with his logic.

If you believe that basketball is the ballet of sport, then I want to watch the best ballerinas in the world.  And some of the things Flash Wade was doing last night just made me laugh out loud, and then hit the 10-second rewind button.  College kids can't do that shit.  Sure, they're more emotionally vested.  Which is good.  And sure, there's that whole college basketball scene.  Which is also good.  And when Duke plays Carolina, the tension is palpable.  Which is also good.  But college kids can't do the shit D-Wade was doing last night.

And that's why you watch pro ball.

Are you familiar with the work of Alistair Macaulay?
I am.
You sound just like him.
Thank you.  That's a beautiful thing to say.

Suicidal Ideation ... an ongoing series

I refer, of course, to a motorcycle.  This one, specifically ...

Lord have mercy.

This one seems particularly likely to kill me, given the combination of extremely high levels of horsepower and what one might call scary front end geometry.

But what a way to go, particularly arrayed in this spectacular, traditional Lotus yolo and green.  Hail Britannia.  You can read a whole article about it here.  As shown the thing costs about $130,000.  To which I reply that you only live once.  To which I would also add that the growing tension in Crimea is as likely as not to lead to a nuclear holocaust, so why not have fun in the few weeks we have left.

Plus, I don't want to live in a world where Michael Schumacher is on life-support.

Very sad article, if one reads between the lines, in today's NYT about Schumacher's continued travails.  The part that got me goes like this ...
One potentially remedial step taken by the family was to invite Schumacher's long-term teammate at Ferrari, the Brazilian Felipe Massa, to sit with Schumacher in his room at the intensive care unit, talking of common experiences in Formula One and of developments in the cars for the new season, which begins March 16 in Australia. 
"I told him everything, about my car, my new team," Massa said, referring to his shift from Ferrari to the Britich Williams team.  "I told him to wake up many times."
Filipe was always a good teammate.  I so wish him well at Williams.  The whole article is here.

They're going to have to stop calling him Schumi and start calling him Veggie.
I can't believe you just said that.

You've read Shute?  More specifically, you've read "On the Beach" by Nevil Shute?  The one about the US submarine commander docked in southern Australia in the aftermath of a nuclear disaster?  The one where almost all of the population of the world is already dead from radiation poisoning and the people in the book have a month or so to live before the radiation gets to them?

Great book.  Makes me think of the Ukraine.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

We'll miss you, Alec

Did you read the long piece by Alec Baldwin in New York Magazine?  The one where he's saying goodbye to public life?  It's here.

I enjoyed it quite a bit.  Made me feel sorry for the guy, to some degree.  I have no doubt that much of what he says about getting a bad rap in the media is true although, at the same time, much of what he complains about is, at least partially, his own fault.

Me?  I'm like the Pope.  Who am I to judge?  My favorite paragraph is about MSNBC.  It reads ...

I watched MSNBC, prior to working there, very sporadically. Once I had signed a contract with them, I wanted to see more of what they were about. It turned out to be the same shit all day long. The only difference was who was actually pulling off whatever act they had come up with. Morning Joe was boring. Scarborough is neither eloquent nor funny. And merely cranky doesn’t always work well in the morning. Mika B. is the Margaret Dumont of cable news. I liked Chris Jansing a lot. Very straightforward. I like Lawrence O’Donnell, but he’s too smart to be doing that show. Rachel Maddow is Rachel Maddow, the ultimate wonk/dweeb who got a show, polished it, made it her own. She’s talented. The problem with everybody on MSNBC is none of them are funny, although that doesn’t prevent them from trying to be.

Wow.  Pretty well said, although he gives Rachel Maddow a good bit of shit later in the piece, which makes me sad because I like think of Maddow as a kind of perfect, artificial thing, existing on television for one hour a day, five days a week, designed to make me, a Democrat, feel better about being a Democrat.  I don't want to know what she's like in real life.

I used to really like Morning Joe, but a year or so back I got sick of it and stopped watching.  Recently I decided to start watching it again -- my thinking being that they were at their best during election-year cycles, and we've got the mid-terms coming up in November.  So I thought it might be a good time to get back on board.

Except I hated it.  So I've stopped watching again.  Maybe when we get closer to the elections I'll switch back in, but I have my doubts.  Joe has transitioned from a slightly-endearing pant-load to a narcissistic bully.  And Mika seems to have switched roles too -- from that of mistress to that of nagging mother -- and I find the new Mika to be extremely tiresome.  They sent Willie Geist to The Today Show (God bless the poor man), and Morning Joe is a less enjoyable place without him.  I sometimes think he was the glue that held the whole thing together.  The rest of the usual group -- Meacham, Rattner, Todd, etc. -- seem to be on autopilot.  Where's Mike Barnicle?

Mistress, you're asking?  Well, let me answer a question with a question.  What, exactly, do you think was going on with those Joe/Mika psychosexual erotic slash slash slash dramatic photomontages in the bumpers?  (Bumpers are those quickie segments that take you into and out of commercials).  Those didn't make you want to just go take a shower?  Seem just a little creepy?  They seem to have toned them down when I tuned back in, but in the early days the BDSM subtext was off the dial.

Here, just for the record, is Russell Brand taking no prisoners ...

The line "So this is what you people do for a living?" is one of the great Morning Joe moments ever.  Followed a few minutes later by his comment about the way Mika is holding her water bottle.  Priceless.

Anyway, I'll miss Alec.  He's probably a way better guy than his public persona suggests.  He would certainly have you believe that.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014


Do you know who these people are?

Well, the one on the right is Raymond Felton, the starting point guard of the New York Knicks.  The guy the Knicks ended up with when they didn't want to give Jeremy Lin the money. The one on the left is Felton's estranged wife.  Who, at about midnight last night (or the night before), wandered into the 20th Precinct on the Upper West Side, slammed a particularly lethal Belgian-made semi-automatic pistol -- a FN Herstal Five-SeveN, more specifically -- on the counter and told the desk officer that her husband had threatened her with it.  According to the NY Post (apply grains of salt to taste), when she handed it to the cop it had a 20 rounds in the clip and one in the chamber.

Felton turned himself in about 45 minutes later to face a slew of gun charges.

What the fuck, Raymond?  Which, I might note parenthetically, is a phrase I've heard many times in my life.  Certainly one must have priorities, and the health and safety of a woman takes priority over whatever impact Felton's absence from the Knicks for the next year or so will have on their win/loss record.  But really?

And the timing!  Only a couple of days after the trade deadline passes? Only a couple of days after they buy out Beno Udrih?  Could all this be any more annoying?  Thank God I switched to Dish Television a month or so ago without realizing that they carry neither the Knicks nor the Mets (nor the Yankees).

For those of you not in the know, NYC has a zero-tolerance position on unlicensed hand guns.  so, barring some miracle, my boy Raymond is headed for the slammer.  Searching for a useful precedent?  Knuckle-head New York Giant Plaxico Burress got 21 months for about the same load of crap.

I might have to start rooting for Brooklyn.

La via del tren subterraneo est pelligroso

I find myself in the unexpected possession of a two liter bottle of Mountain Dew.  Of which about half a liter of the actual Dew is left.

Me?  I've got plenty of self-destructive habits, but soda isn't one of them.  But let me tell you, this Mountain Dew is really off the dial.  Outstanding.  Every once in a while I'll have a Coke.  And man, that's pretty great too.  Particularly Mexican Coke, which is palpably different than the plain old USA version.  But mostly I just stay away from the stuff.

Although while we're on the subject of Mountain Dew, how about that Dale Earnhardt Jr. winning the Daytona 500?  Here he is in his #88 National Guard car, which I think he alternates with his Mountain Dew car.

Now that Juan Pablo Montoya isn't running, I'm okay with Dale Jr. winning.  I also like Brad Keselowski, although he has a very odd looking face.  He was close at the end.  And I'd like to see Danica Patrick win one just to shut Richard Petty's mouth.

Because of rain, the race was delayed about five hours.  Since I was already comfortable on the couch, I decided it would be a good time to start bingeing True Detective, which is helping me get past my Matthew McConaughey resistance.  I ended up missing most of the race, but at least I'm now current with T.D., and it's outstanding.

Last night I watched the first episode of House of Cards as well.  Wow.  Remember to stand away from the edge when in the subway station.  La via del tren subterraneo est pelligroso, mi amiga.

Monday, February 24, 2014

One last bit on the Olympics ...

Here's a photo of Ann Curry after she got fired from the Today Show ...

Just to show you that NBC doesn't just exploit Bode Miller's emotional breakdown.  They eat their own too.

But since I've slammed NBC and parts of its Olympic coverage several times over the last week or so, I should, in the interest of fair balance, say something about Bob Costas.  Of whom I'm fond.

My boy Bob channeled Sasha Fierce the other night (after he'd survived his pink eye disaster) in one of those interludes where he's just sitting in the chair on the main set talking into the camera.  And in doing so he laid into Vlad Putin to such a degree that I was concerned whether he'd ever get out of Russia.  I mean, he let him have it, urging the audience in very specific terms not to confuse the general bonhomie of the Olympics with the actual state of human rights in Russia.  I was quite impressed.

A number of years ago a friend of mine's ex-wife hosted some charity thing where Costas was the keynote speaker.

That's a stupid phrase -- keynote speaker.
Yes it is.

Anyway, her report back was that he was a bit full of himself.  At which I have a hard time throwing too many stones.  Hell, people think I'm insufferable ... and I'm just me.  I'm sure that if I was Bob Costas I'd be literally insufferable.  And I mean literally.  As in you couldn't be in the same room with me.  Hell, I probably wouldn't let you in the same room with me in the first place, so maybe the point is moot.

Regardless, this is my salute to Bob for, in a world of mealy-mouthed television announcers, stepping up and saying something significant.

I tried to find the bit on U-Tube but came up dry.  So you don't go away empty handed (which, oddly enough, is exactly what Derek Jeter says when he hands a one-night-stand her gift bag), here's Costas talking about gun control ...

You should hear him on the subject of the Washington Redskins.

I'm not sure there's anybody else in sports with such an impressive combination of a bully pulpit and the willingness to use it.  Olbermann, maybe, at one point in his career.  But a little of that guy goes a long fucking way.  Costas is a bit easier to consume.


I will say this about the Kim/Sotnikova uproar:  The idea of anonymous judging is laughably stupid.

The arcane mathematics of the judging is (are?) impenetrable anyway, but it would have been comforting to see each judge's score and their nationality.   It gets back to Maria Bartiromo agreeing with Todd Thompson's idea of kicking everybody off the Citigroup plane and just the two of them flying back from Singapore, or wherever, alone.

Maybe they played backgammon the whole way back.   Or tickle and slap.

Who wouldn't want to play tickle and slap with Maria?
I hear you.  I bet she slaps hard.

Either way, it's about transparency.  Hell, one of the judges scoring the ladies' program had already been caught trying to rig results two Olympics prior.  Another was married to a formerly-high-ranking Russian skating official.  Who thought that shit was a good idea?

I'd go with "is".
Mathematics is impenetrable.
You think?
Yeah.  It's a collective singular.  And you're not British.
No I'm not.
Because those blokes are always treating collective singulars as plurals.
Manchester United are having a lousy season, by their standards at least.
Hmmm.  Nicely said, although I'm not sure Manchester United is a collective singular.
Hell, it's barely a soccer team these days.

Did I mention it's snowing again?  Crikeys.

For those of you keeping score at home ...

Here, through the miracle of photographic technology, is Yuna Kim (one of four ways that NBC chose to spell/present her name in their graphics packages) versus the Russian girl, Adelina Sotnikova ...

Which is interesting on a number of levels.  The whole Times article is here.  Not very long and kind of fun, if this sort of thing interests you.

[Disclaimer:  The TYOMP legal department tells me I have to write the words "Do not attempt this at home", as if that wasn't obvious enough without me typing it.]

Me?  I was not one of those people in high dudgeon re. the outcome.  I thought Sotnikova skated with a good deal more fire and it quickly became obvious that her technical program was significantly more challenging than Ms. Kim's.  So what's the problem?

And besides, who doesn't want to see the Russian girl win in Sochi?  What a thrill for her, and redemption too after being more or less shoved out of the limelight by her annoying 15 year old teammate.  Whose name I won't type because, honestly, enough with the Russian names.

I thought Sotnikova was slated for greatness when she punctuated her short skate by leaping up and stamping both skates into the ice, fists clenched.  I remember thinking, "This girl is ready to go."

Final Thought on The Olympica:  I'm glad they are over.  I didn't watch the closing ceremonies, just as I didn't watch the opening ones.  What a load of crap, generally speaking.  But the sports stuff was great -- my two favorite events being short-track skating and whatever the event is where they have six guys on snowboards all coming down the same course.  Neither, it should be noted, involved judges.

On the other hand, I'm sad that Downton Abbey is over.  Shit -- it seems like it barely started a month ago.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Worst National Anthem Ever?

Certainly bottom five.

Have you seen this?  Brought to you, via NASCAR, by Madison Rising, the self-proclaimed "most patriotic rock band in the world."

They're kidding, right?

Me?  I'm speechless.  First I was going to say it made me want to vomit.  Then I realized that what it really made me want to do was slug the lead singer in the face.  And then, perhaps, another time.  And then, perhaps, a third.  Just so he fully understands that sanctimoniously holding up a folded flag doesn't make you the most patriotic anything.  It makes you a miserable, manipulative shit.

Which makes me ashamed of myself, because slugging people in the face, no matter how richly they deserve it, almost never solves anything.

Figures that this gets the NASCAR spotlight.  The NASCAR Nation ... that bastion of the thinking that goes a man's patriotism is directly related to the number of rounds he has in his clip.

[long pause, deep breath]

Okay, now with cooler heads prevailing, let me just say that I, dear reader, am a member of the NASCAR Nation and am looking forward very much to watching the Daytona 500.  If for no other reason than the running of the 500 means that spring is on the way.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Open Letter to Tony Bennett

Not that Tony Bennett.  I'm talking about the University of Virginia men's basketball coach.

Dear Mr. Bennett:

Just a note of thanks for bringing UVa basketball back to relevance.  14th-ish in the country and counting.  It's been a long slog through the swamp and it's lovely to be back on firm ground again.  Imagine what fun it would be to whup Syracuse when they come to town this week.  I hope they wear the same ugly two-color unis they wore against Boston College.  Although I doubt they will.

Amidst all this winning, I've been thinking about my favorite Cavalier basketball moments.  There are a number of them involving Barry Parkhill, but those seem to coalesce into one general sense of bliss.  Which makes it hard to pick just one.  And the Ralph Sampson era still feels like a dream unfulfilled, although the first time Virginia and the Patrick Ewing-led Georgetown team met does stick in the mind.  Read about it here.  So, given all that, drumroll please, I would say that my favorite Virginia basketball moment was the victory against Carolina in the ACC finals in 1976.  It was the first time in history that a team beat the top three seeds (NCState, Maryland, Carolina, in order) to win the ACC championship.  And it should be noted that, back then, the general consensus was that winning the ACC was tantamount to being national champion.  So good o.

That team was, of course, led by the extraordinary Wally Walker.  Who managed to squeeze out 21 points and seven rebounds against Carolina that day.  Which was a lot for a game that ended 67 to something less than 67.

I know this how?  I know this because I just got through a Wikipedia investigation of what passes for facts on Wikipedia.  I also know this because I watched the game in person, via television, with my friends Dave and Jerry (who now insists everybody call him Gerald) on the bottom floor of my parents townhouse in Fairfax, Virginia.

I liked that house because I slept on the first floor and my parents slept on the third floor.  Given the distance, my friends and I could put up a fair ruckus downstairs and not worry about bothering them.  The exception being the night we beat Carolina, at which point we made so much noise that my father, roused from sleep, came downstairs and asked if everything was okay.

Which it was.  So he went back to bed.

Just another couple of quick basketball moments, since although the letter is addressed to you, it's really about me.

Ain't that the way.
Yes it is.  Suck it.  
A little hostile, don't you think?
I can't believe you've wormed your way into my letter to Tony Bennett.

Anyway, moment number one happened in, I think, Utah.  My friend Earl and I were attending an away Virginia football game and there, in the pre-game alumni get together, stood Barry Parkhill himself, bathed in the kind of shimmering light that God reserves for the great ones.  We shook his hand, chatted about whatever.  It was wonderful.

Second was the time at the Dell (which was a popular outdoor basketball venue on the Virginia grounds) when I simply couldn't miss and, after sinking a long jumper to win the game (which was unusual for me; I tended to embody a lesser version of the early Wes Unseld/Adrian Dantley school of post-up play) somebody asked me if I played JV.  Which was also wonderful.

And finally, also in the Dell, was the time I found myself shooting around by myself at one end of the court while Mark Iavaroni, Billy Langloh and the very same Wally Walker as mentioned above were screwing around on the other end.  Nobody else was there, so you'll just have to take my word on this.

This being both the general state of things that day and the specific moment at which I summoned my courage, sauntered over to the mid-court line and asked them if they'd like to play some two-on-two.   After a couple of seconds Walker himself said, "No thanks, man."

I was disappointed, of course.  I had envisioned some version of Walker taking Iavaroni (who, it should be noted, won a ring with the '76ers and so, by definition, was not chopped liver) and me checking the estimable Mr. Langloh.  I figured I could take him a couple of times before he got serious and then demolished me.  And even though none of that happened, it was still wonderful.

So, Mr. Bennett, you can see how emotionally vested I am in the whole thing.  Thus this letter.   Thank you again.  You're a nice looking man.

All the best,

Geoffrey Raymond
College '76

Thursday, February 20, 2014

L - O - L - O, Lolo.

With apologies to The Kinks.

What's up with everybody piling on poor Lolo Jones?  She being the somewhat underperforming Summer Olympics hurdler who got the gig pushing USA Bobsled 3.  Some Olympic mens' bobsled wannabe malook named Chuck Berkeley was quoted the other day as saying he knew they would have placed better if the woman Jones beat out had been the pusher.  His tweet reading

Absolutely no doubt that @KatieEberling would have done better for USA3. Hope the marketing dollars were worth it.

First of all, how the hell does he know something like that?  Beware, friends, of people who appear to know stuff that is functionally unknowable.  Bill O'Reilly jumps to mind.  Why the White House granted him, of all people, an exclusive Super Bowl interview is just one of many questions that the Obama administration will have to answer for.  Also beware of knuckle-dragging mouth-breathers.  But that's a different story.

A couple of thoughts:

1 -- The reason it's called USA 3 is that it's not as fast as USA 1 and 2.  This designation was attached prior to Ms. Jones being selected.

2 -- Jones' team came in 11th.  Yet their start times for the four runs were all in the top ten, one as high as 4th.  The slowest being 8th.

3 -- The brakeman's job is to push the sled at the beginning then jump in.  After that, nothing.  You just sit there with your head tucked down.  Which is understandable from an aero perspective but which sucks for the participant.  I'd like to be able to hold my head up and see what the hell's going on.  So the teams' start times are the sole measurement of the brakeman's performance.

The truth of the matter is that the girl driving USA 3 was relatively inexperienced and put together four crappy runs.  I used to joke that my X-Wife thought the purpose of the curbs on the side of the road were to keep the cars on the tarmac.  Same thing.  The girl couldn't stop slamming into the side of the damned track.

Me?  I have no beef with Ms. Jones, although she seems like an undeserving lightening rod for the stuff.  And here's a picture of Ms. Eberling ...

Shout out to this Berkeley guy:  Shut the fuck up, you mouth-breathing, knuckle-dragging malook.

I leave you with Pussy Riot's latest video ...

Girls -- don't quite the day job.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Boom boom boom boom

[Warning:  possibly unsuitable for work or young children]

I just saw a sneak peek of Wolfenstein, the New Order.  Which is a video game coming to almost every electronic device you can imagine.  Other than your radio.

The gist of the thing is an alternative history based on the notion that the Nazis won the war.  It's a first person shooter, which means you shoot as many things as you possibly can.

Dude.  Who wouldn't want to play this game?

The influence of my boy Quentin Tarantino, director of Inglourious Basterds, is palpable.

Dos vedanya, tovarisch

Which reads in Cyrillic:  пока я не увижу вас опять, товарищ

Which reads in English something like "Dude, we were supposed to meet you guys in the gold medal game and you end up losing in the quarterfinals to Finland?"

Manoman, I bet there are some tight asses in the Kremlin just now, as word filters out to the rest of the world that the mighty Russian hockey team lost to Finland last night.  Or earlier today -- it's impossible to tell.

Me?  I've actually seen the Kremlin.  Seventeen years old, standing in Red Square watching the snow come down on St. Basil's Cathedral.  I was supposed to meet Keri Russell there but she never showed.  Which is, of course, a small joke about the upcoming second season of The Amerikans.  If they spell it with a K.

But I really was there, and it was beautiful.  Of course all is black in Mother Russia today.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Happy Birthday, Yoko

Look how hot Yoko looked ...

Am reading a Beatles biography.  Took them 114 pages to get to George Harrison, so I'm not holding my breath for Yoko showing up anytime soon.

She's 81.

Getting to the bottom of this whole Kristen Scott Thomas business

I don't think that's her name.
No.  I think you're referring to Christin Cooper.
The reporter who made Bode Miller cry?
The very one.

Anyway, none of the Bode Miller business surprised me, other than his inability to turn off the faucets once they were turned on.  Personally, I found the spectacle disgusting.  Manipulative.  Deeply intrusive.  It made my skin crawl at the time and I found myself thinking I would write a long blog post about it and then, out of the blue, the whole world rises up in protest.

What, suddenly we grow a collective conscience?  Re-embrace simple decency?  What's next -- single payer health care?

I'm not complaining about Mr. Miller's behavior -- just so we're clear.  He's had a truly shitty year.  There was a while, eight years or so ago, when I was not a big Miller fan.  He of the medals-aren't-the-important-thing mindset for which he received much scathing criticism from me.  But now I realize that the fault was mine, not his.  That he's perhaps one of the few sane people in the Winter Olympics.  That the magnificence of the man's Chi is exceeded only by the magnitude of his Zen.

You don't even know what those words mean.
No, I don't.  Not exactly, at least.

And I don't even find Ms. Cooper's behavior too reprehensible.  Yes, she should have called it quits one question earlier, but, to quote the Pope, who am I to judge?

No.  The disgusting part of the whole thing was that NBC had a long time to reflect on the 50 or 60 seconds they spent on the Miller breakdown (the prime-time Olympics are all taped and edited, if that isn't obvious) and decided that it was fine just the way it was.  One can't blame this one on Matt Lauer, but his presence on the set, standing in for Bob Costas (he of the pink eyes), spoke symbolically about why The Today Show -- the bastion of gotcha television -- is in free-fall.

What, suddenly we grow a collective conscience?  Re-embrace simple decency?  What's next -- single payer health care?

And do you know what the worst part of the whole thing was?  It happened late in the piece, after Miller had stepped away from Ms. Cooper, walked a few feet up the roped-off aisle reserved for skiers and then kneeled down in the snow with his face in his hands.  Because he had changed location, they had to cut to a second camera man who had a great angle because he was on the skiers' side of the ropes.  At some point one of Miller's teammates -- you don't know who it is but you know he was American because of the uniform -- walks up to him and puts a hand on his shoulder.  At which point an NBC employee intercedes and tells him to move aside because he was obscuring the camera.

And that's what really bugged me.  The craven admission by NBC that comforting a stricken man was less important than getting the shot.

Yuk.  Were I a better man I'd stop watching the rest of the Olympics and concentrate on finishing Assassin's Creed 4, Black Flag.   But there's still too much good stuff to come.

Monday, February 17, 2014

By the Numbers

To those of you who attach paranormal significance to numbers: Don't read this ...


I refer to the 114th page of the new biography of the Beatles I'm reading, in which the name George Harrison is first mentioned.  I can understand a bit of a lag with Ringo, but 114 pages to get to George?  Very much part and parcel of my complaints about long biographies.  That said, I'm enjoying it quite a bit.  So maybe I should just shut up.

I'm listening to George's What Is Life? as I type.


This is some weeks ago:  I'm waiting around for a cab to take me to the train station and I decide to eat an orange as a way of making the time go faster.  I finish the first half (I eat my oranges by cutting them in half and then pressing my face into them) and the cab comes.  I jump up, rush out the door, catch the train, etc.

Upon my return I find the other half of the orange still sitting atop a magazine on my coffee table.  Because I'm an idiosyncratic housekeeper, I just leave it there.  I mean, it's not hurting anybody.  And so now it's been two or so weeks and it's amazing how well the orange is still hanging in there.  I had expected an opportunistic fungal infection or two.  Instead, the edge of my orange, due to shrinking, has formed a wonderful sort of curved ridge around the cut line.  It reminds me very much of the rear spoiler of a Ferrari 375 GTB four-cam ...

... which is one of the most beautiful cars in the world.  Even dressed in silver, like a Mercedes.


There are 45 days til the beginning of the next season of Game of Thrones.  And speaking of HBO, I just finished binge watching the second season of The Newsroom.  Which was not only outstanding but also only 9 episodes long.  Which made the binge-ing seem pretty mellow compared to, says, watching all of Breaking Bad over a six week period.

I liked Season 2 much better than Season 1, and was interested to note that Season 3 will be, by design, the last.  I admire the idea of getting in and out with dignity.

Thursday, February 13, 2014


Man, is it snowing.  Popcorn-sized pieces of snow, recently increased in intensity.  I went out an hour or so ago to shovel the walk; my work is now gone.

Whited out.

Remember the IBM Selectric II?  With the automatic white-out key?  Now that was a typewriter.

The snow is coming down so hard some of it appears to be going back up.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Great Namath

Remember when, some years ago, they did a sideline piece with an intoxicated Joe Namath during a Jets pre-season game and he told the female interviewer that he'd like to kiss her?  Might have been Suzy Kolber?

It was a low point.  Here's to remembering the good stuff ...

Me?  I always blamed that on the producer.   Or on Kolber.  Somebody should have stepped in before allowing Joe to make an ass of himself.  The net result being, of course, the obligatory apology ...

Why are you doing this?
These Ceremonial Jerseys?
I don't know.
They seem like a waste of your valuable mojo.
I don't know.  Who knows why anybody does anything?
Fair question.  I do like the knee brace, though.
You do?
Me too.  Maybe that's why I'm doing them.  To figure out what the right thing to put on the bottom is.

Leon Redbone

A friend of mine was at the Westminster Dog Show the other day.  I told him to check out my breed of choice, the Redbone Coonhound.  He sent this ...

... which, although cute, isn't the finest representation of the breed.

Which is odd since, if not at the Westminster Dog Show, one wonders where one might find the finest representation of the breed.  It could be a matter of his camera's inability to render the color just right.

Me?  I like a redder Redbone.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Downton Abbey

I've got the most recent episode on tape and am not sure I can watch.

Poor Lady Edith.  Just as she's getting her shit together, emerging from the chrysalis, finding her own lovely self, she gets knocked up?  I'm just not sure I can handle one more bad thing happening at Downton Abbey.  Better we should concentrate our energies on Lady Rose sucking face with the bandleader.  Who, as you must know, is black!  And not much of a singer, critically speaking.

God help us regardless.

Monday, February 10, 2014

The Great Jets

Have we discussed my Curtis Martin Ceremonial Robe?

This is, of course, just a study.  I'm using today to decompress from the rigors of the previous several, and although I don't really think this is a particularly good idea, it is what it is.

With the phrase "I don't really think this is a particularly good idea," are you referring to the ceremonial robe or the decompression period.
The robe.
What do you mean by that?
I guess I mean something along the lines of the green not being dark enough ... and the fringe is a disaster.
And you remember me saying that it was just a study?
I do.
Yet you persist?

Ahhh, the Olympics

First, how about those two Canadian sisters -- the Dufour-Lapointe girls -- who came in first and second on the mogul competition?  Each one was cuter than the next.  Like a Möbius strip of cuteness, one side for little Justine and one side for her big sister Chloe.

Except a Möbius strip only has one side.
Good point, although I'll never understand how that works.

Anyway, good for them regardless.  Less props to the American, Hannah Kearney, who was favored to win and came in third.  For the record, she already had an Olympic gold medal, so a little graciousness about not getting a second gold and having to settle for some raggedy-assed bronze one might be nice.  Because there are millions of people who would be delighted to even get to the Olympics and drink all that yellow water and take a shit in the same room, right next to somebody else also taking one, etc.

And just one quick item:  Is it my imagination, or is Meryl Davis, of Davis and White, so thin that it's surprising more people aren't talking about it in the same sentence as bulimia?  Maybe I'm wrong, but most female figure skaters -- other than the really young ones who still look like a collection of chicken wings -- look pretty healthy.  Lean, but healthy.

Thighs like linebackers, one might observe.  
One might.

Davis, on the other hand, looks positively wasted away, especially through the arms and upper torso.

I Like Killing Flies

Have you ever seen this movie?  A documentary about Kenny Shopsin's unusual (the understatement of the decade), now-relocated restaurant, it's available on Netflix streaming or DVD.  Or, if you're just sitting around with absolutely nothing to do, I'll provide it to you here, right now, for free ...

It's right up there with Enter Through the Gift Shop in the major giggle category.  And who says I never do stuff for you?

Anyway, I was at brunch yesterday and, somehow, Kenny Shopsin comes up.  Most of the guests had left, but the guitar player of the band that was playing at the brunch (I go to higher class brunches than you do) and his wife, and my boy Bobby the Gravedigger, who also plays in the band, and his wife (who were the hosts) and I are hanging out after the fact and he, the guitar player, mentions that he cooked for Kenny for eleven years.  His wife worked there too, albeit it more briefly.  As he was telling stories I thought her eyes were going to come out of her head, she was rolling them so frequently.

The whole thing was a hoot.

I'm trying to think of a comparable scenario:  Adolph Hitler's regular driver?  Idi Amin's personal assistant?  Writing the blog for almost eight fucking years?

Anyway, the guy's stock went way up in my book, and it was already pretty high.

You should check out the movie.  Quite like nothing you've ever seen.  It and Jiro Dreams of Sushi would make a great movie-night double-feature for you and the old ball and chain.

Secret to Shopsin's chicken salad:

-- use turkey breast instead of chicken
-- go halfsies with mayo and sour cream.

Me?  I cannot wait til the next opportunity comes up to make some chicken salad.

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

My boy Hampshire

I'll travel to New York on Thursday to attend the opening of a show featuring my boy John Hampshire.  He of the labyrinthine meteorological renderings.  He of the dark subtexts and shadowy corners of the mind.  What's the name of that gallery?

You're asking me?
I don't know.
And you can't just Google it while I type?
I suppose I could.
Then please ... if you don't mind?

I think it's on 25th Street.  Anyway, this is one of his paintings ...

... although he doesn't always call them paintings.  Particularly the monochromatic ones like the one shown.  He calls them labyrinths, and the majesty of the things cannot be grasped by looking at an image that's six inches long.  They, like Lynda Carter -- who I once met at the American Academy of Dermatology meeting -- can only be fully appreciated in person.

It's the Phoenix Gallery.  210 11th Ave, near 25th.
Thank you.
You're welcome.

You understand, by now, that because of severe underlying neurosis I'm incapable of talking about anybody but myself, other than in a manner slyly designed to to call attention to moi while ostensibly talking about somebody else.  All this by way of saying that I'm under the impression that one of the paintings he's showing is a portrait of me.

I may be completely wrong about this.  I'm not even sure where the notion came from.  But I'd urge you, the Minions of Magical Painting, to go regardless.  If you're feeling flush, buy one.

This is Adrianne Palicki, of Friday Night Lights fame, about whose upcoming interpretation of Wonder Woman I have some questions ...

Me?  I might have gone with Katy Perry.

This, of course, is Ms. Carter.

I came back ...

... in part because of this:

[Note on graph:  "Today" really means January 9th]

I was amazed that two and a half weeks after the site had been closed, a hundred people a day kept wandering by, checking things out.  Some, I'm assuming, lit candles and wrote messages on little bits of paper and scrunched them into the nooks and crannies of the physical space that The Year of Magical Painting once occupied.  There was likely singing, and this moved me to a degree.

Selfishly, I was also delighted when the WTF traffic jumped up on what looks like December 22nd.  Let them eat cake, I remember thinking.  But the moment that thought passed through my mind another followed in its place.  These are my people, I remember thinking.  They need more than cake.  They need corned beef hash.  And wood fired pizza.  And Bud Light.  And all the other things one needs for a full, rich life.  They need to hear the Greek Chorus in full throat.  They need the occasional glimpse into the dark soul of the artist.  They need to taste the the bitter, coppery sensation of failure ... and smell the azure blue of the soaring hawk.

They need The Year of Magical Painting, I thought.

And so I relented.

Can you smell blue?
Yeah.  Smells like chicken.

Monday, February 03, 2014

The Commentariat Weighs In

Somebody wrote this ...

Read Birdsong....Sebastian Faulks...whew. And how many readers do you think you lost while you were in your prolonged brain cramp.... Fortunately I'm back but only by accident.

Which is certainly a fair question.

My answer is this:  I don't care.  At a certain point I realized I was paying way too much attention to how many visitors I had on a daily basis.  It started to rule my life.  I had little techniques for timing posts to maximize readership; I checked the stats three or four times a day; my average number of daily posts went way up; I reflected on search engine optimization ...

Crikeys, it was a disaster.

So now I don't give a shit how many readers I have.  You build it; they come.   Or not.  That said, I was averaging 10,000 visits before my so-called brain cramp and now I'm getting about half that.

And since the phrase "brain cramp" has come up, I'd like to say I don't think I get enough credit for the job I did closing down The Year of Magical Painting, even if it didn't stay closed.  The introduction of both the talking dog and the screen play format?  Xerxes' growing sense of betrayal?  The Sopranos-style ending?  The long dark pause then the cut to Sweet Virginia?


The whole thing started one day when I had corned beef hash for breakfast and I reflected on how much it looked like dog food.  At which point the end became inevitable.  Because this is, after all, a tragedy.

Anyway, the word masterful jumps to mind, and it would have been nice if somebody had written in and said so.  Or words to that effect.  Or some fucking thanks for seven and a half years of grinding out the highest grade of artisanal sausage (no fennel).  Name another blog that gives you half as much quality shit as this one.

To the commentator, however, I'll say these two things:

1 -- I'll check out Birdsong.  Thanks for the tip.
2 -- I'm glad you're back, even if it is only by accident.

Tomorrow I'll have more on why I came back.

The Needle and the Damage Done

I couldn't help myself. Anyway, here are two of my favorite heroin songs ... and ...

Every junkie's like the setting sun.

I apologize for the obviousness of the title, but it's better than my original choice.  That being  "The Needle and the Damage Done."  All by way of saying Philip Seymour Hoffman was found dead in his apartment yesterday with the needle still in his vein.  And while I'm not ready to completely hop on the PSM bandwagon, most notable for its consistent claims that the man was the greatest actor of his generation, I will say he was very much the real deal.

My favorite writer at Forbes, Eric Kain, posted on Facebook that he was sick and tired of talented artists killing themselves with drugs.  

[Note to reader:  Don't be too impressed that I have a favorite writer at Forbes -- he writes about video games]

Anyway, here's Jimmy Fallon, who does an amazing Neil Diamond, doing Jim Morrison ...

If you're a parent, or a kid, don't click away til you at least catch the Goodnight Moon bit at the 1:42 mark.  

There's a great article in Vulture, which is the New York Magazine online site, about Fallon.  The Peter McManus Cafe is mentioned in paragraph 22.  Picasso, or somebody, once said every painting was a little bit of dying.  Likewise every beer at McManus.

I caught you knockin'
at my cellar door
I love you, baby,
can I have some more
Ooh, ooh, the damage done.

I hit the city and
I lost my band
I watched the needle
take another man
Gone, gone, the damage done.

I sing the song
because I love the man
I know that some
of you don't understand
to keep from running out.

I've seen the needle
and the damage done
A little part of it in everyone
But every junkie's
like a settin' sun.

Philip Seymour Hoffman, rest in peace.

Sunday, February 02, 2014

Someone mentioned the movie Pennies from Heaven on Facebook so I thought I'd post my favorite part here.

Did I mention the Broncos 31 'Hawks 24 business?

The Big Game

Two predictions:

1 -- If you're NOT betting money, I see the Broncos winning by a score of 31 to something less than 31.  Perhaps 24.

I come up with 31 as follows:  the Ravens allow about 15 points a game.  The Broncos score about 40 (we're rounding up with both these numbers).  The differential is 25.  So if you split the difference you see the Broncos scoring 28 points.  I add three points to this for what I call the Manning factor.  Thus 31.

People say that the Broncos have not seen a defense like Seattle.  I counter with the fact that Seattle has not seen a quarterback like P. Manning.

2 -- If you ARE betting money, take Seattle and the points.